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Materya - Case CD (album) cover

CASE

Materya

 

Crossover Prog

3.92 | 7 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Every progressive music fan should once in a while unwind with something less demanding and complex, so along comes the debut album `Case' from the Italian male/female duo Materya. It's a frequently piano driven collection of intelligent and elegant adult ballads and sophisticated progressive pop along the lines of Karnataka, the softer moments of The Reasoning and the more straightforward songs of Magenta. That connection is not surprising, seeing as how this album is released on Magenta main-man Rob Reed's label White Knight. But this album instead is very sparsely produced, with many of the pieces drifting along in a placid, thoughtful and even slightly melancholic manner.

`Case' is comprised of 12 tracks, mostly sung in Italian which gives the pieces a very sadly romantic sound, but there's a few English lyric numbers that were no doubt keeping a kind of crossover appeal in mind. The material is formed around Andrea Stagni's stirring piano, gentle washes of synths and both warm acoustic guitar and restrained electric. But it's Betty Copeta's sumptuous and reflective feminine vocals, equally displaying confidence and fragility that makes the album so special. The CD is also filled out with various guests who add very restrained percussion and drums, but they are put to more use in the second half of the disc.

The standout numbers throughout this consistently impressive work are the ones that bridge light and dark moments. `Alberi e Foglie' has a slightly brooding tension building around crystalline piano spirals, Betty's voice lifting in drama backed by full bass and gentle guitar soloing. The six minute `Domenica' is especially moving with grand synth orchestration and duel male/female vocals from the duo in the second half, where, probably by pure accident, Andrea almost comes across like Magma's Christian Vander with his scat vocal styling over more briefly urgent drumming and whirring keyboard noodling!

Pieces like `Braccialetti di Diamnati' have a droning, hypnotic quality due to Betty's restrained multi- layered harmonies that cascade around the speakers. Darker seven minute piece has a very sorrowful and longing vocal from Betty around lonely piano, `The Deed is Done' is confident and grand slow-tempo pop, `Flowers and Lies' a darkly classical gothic lullaby, while Andrea even takes lead vocals on the hopeful `Across The Light'.

Right in the middle of the album the band takes a surprising turn, deciding to rock out a little more! This change of heart leads to the absolute knockout track of the album in `Stella Splendens', an interpretation of a medieval folk piece that jumps back and forth from madrigal classical guitar moments, Steve Hackett-like grinding and early 70's Genesis inspired Moog soloing with strangely heavy distortion. Forceful male/female dreamy harmonies give it a strident stomp amongst marching drums and a frantic energy overall. Fans of New Age/folk artists like Loreena Mckennett, or prog-folkers like White Willow, Fern Knight and Tirill Mohn will really go for this one, and it hints at so many potential directions the band could go in for future releases. It also gives the album a quick shot in the arm and a bit of grunt. Well done, Materya! Further pieces `Emozione...', `Dormi Sola' and `Uomo' also benefit greatly from the added rock edge that fans of Mostly Autumn will appreciate.

Please don't misunderstand, this album is not a progressive rock blowout. It's simply a refined and cultured album for grown ups who appreciate quietly intelligent music, and is something to be truly treasured if you let it into your heart. Also be aware that the first half of the album is a lot more subdued and laid-back, with the darker drama and more progressively inclined moments kicking in later, so please stick with it. Repeated listens just confirms how strong the album is, so don't dismiss it on your initial play.

Special mention must also go to the lavish CD booklet, but especially the lovely painting of the owl on the front cover by Chiara Renda, which perfectly reflects the still yet eerie night that would be the ideal time to listen to this album, as well as the warm colours of a sunrise that brings the promise and potential of a brand new day.

Music to ponder and enjoy, on a quiet night, perhaps with a loved one.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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